By TESS SHEETS
1. You Get to See Mayor Bob Buckhorn Tap a Keg
Oktoberfest Tampa kicks off their seventh annual fall celebration this weekend, Oct. 7-9, at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. This means that Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be back to tap the ceremonial Oktoberfest Tampa Dunkel on Saturday at 3 p.m. This unique beer is being debuted by Coppertail, one of the event’s sponsors.
“We want the people of Tampa to be proud to have their own festival of Gemütlichkeit and to have a beer that was brewed just for them! It’s going to be a very special day for everyone,” said Nicol Winkler, a German native and one of the event’s co-founders, in an email.
2. There are Weird Games for Everyone
Oktoberfest has become known around the world as a celebration of beer-drinking, but the event in Tampa is family-friendly, offering free admission for children 12 and under. Activities for kids include a bouncy house and a new two-story obstacle course.
The fun doesn’t stop there.
Adults will be challenged in a few games of their own for the chance to win dozens of prizes from the event’s sponsors, some of which include t-shirts, koozies, hats and gift baskets.
“One big thing that sets us apart from other Oktoberfest’s are our Outrageous Bavarian Games,” Winkler said. “Every minute of our festival, you’ll find multiple games going on that our guests can play for free, and participants can win free swag or prizes from our sponsors.”
The Stein Hoist is especially popular. In this event, participants must hold up a one-liter glass stein full of beer at a 90 degree angle with their elbow locked. If the stein becomes anything other than parallel to the ground, or if just one drop of liquid is spilled, the contestant is disqualified.
The all-time record for this game was set in 2013 by Jon Alderman and sits at 24 minutes and nine seconds. This year, the Oktoberfest Tampa organizers are adjustng the rules.
“We’re trying to find ways to make it a little more challenging, but still let people have a good time,” said Erik Cattelle, Oktoberfest Tampa’s Game Host Meister. “It’s about creating that fun culture and creating togetherness.”
Other games include Tauziehen (tug-o- war), a brat toss and an inflatable obstacle course—but those just scratch the surface.
3. There is Just So Much Beer and Lots of Dancing
Listen to me: there will be at least 2000 kegs at Oktoberfest Tampa. TWO THOUSAND KEGS. Have you ever even seen that many? I didn’t think so.
You can fill your steins with five different categories of beer: Pilsner or “Pils,” Märzen / Oktoberfest, Dunkel, Wheat and Radler.
In addition to the Outrageous Bavarian Games, other entertainment will include traditional folk Schuhplattler Dancers, performing to the music of DJ Jay Kay, who has traveled from Germany for another year of Oktoberfest Tampa.
According the event’s site, every 20 minutes or so, the event staff and musicians will break out into “Ein Prosit,” a German song that is essentially saying “get ready to drink,” but is literally saying “A toast!” When the band finishes the song, it is customary for all attendants to raise their glasses and say “Eins, Zwei, Drei, Gsuffa!” This means “one, two, three, drink!”
4. It’s Ballin’-on-a-Budget Friendly
All active or retired military, police, firefighter and EMS first responders receive free admission to the event with a valid ID. This includes spouses of these individuals for any and all days of Oktoberfest Tampa event.
Even if you do not fall into this category, admission into the event is only $10 on Friday or $25 for the entire weekend. Once inside, the beers are $5 for a 16 ounce cup and $10 for a one liter stein. Clearly, this will be a switch-up for anyone stumbling out of bed from dollar beers, but you get what you pay for. In this case it’s traditional German Beer, which rings in around seven to eight percent alcohol content.
5. It’s Right Across the River from UT
Unless you are under 21, you have no excuse not to hit up Oktoberfest Tampa. The event started in 2010 and was held at Tampa Armature Works its first year. When that property was in the process of being leased the following year, the festival moved to Water Works Park near Tampa Heights. In 2012, Oktoberfest Tampa was moved a third and final time to its current venue, Curtis Hixon Park, because of a remodeling of Water Works that year. You can see Curtis Hixon from campus, people. It’s walkable. Go there. No DDs necessary.
About 10,000 people are expected to fill the park this weekend, which is incomparable to the 5.6 million visitors that just attended Munich, Germany’s two-week Oktoberfest Sept. 15-Oct. 2. However, this event boasts an attendance that makes it the largest waterfront biergarten in Tampa.
“Numbers are great and we love breaking records but we like making sure people are having a good time,” Cattelle said.
The appeal of lederhosen, monopoly-man mustaches and endless steins of German beer is now shared around the world, with Oktoberfests taking place in Brazil, Canada, Japan and dozens of other countries.
Tess Sheets can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org